Friday, February 26, 2010

A Harmless Idiocy

Obi Wan KenobiI'm probably going to regret this but... well, what the hell, surely I can't be the only one. Yes, it's confession time again folks. Time to 'fess up to some idiocy that I desperately hope I share with other people in a pathetic attempt to normalise it in the first place.

Picture the scene. You're alone in an elevator. The floor you want is approaching. You know the doors are going to shush open any minute. You're all alone. Unobserved. It can't hurt, can it? Just to... you know, wave your hand in front of the door as if you were a Jedi and then have the door magically open before you. I mean, it's not like I pull my hoody up and speak in a weirdly stilted Alec Guinness voice at the same time. I don't have Star Wars posters on my bedroom wall. I don't have my religion recorded at the passport office as "Jedi" as some idiots do.

I just, you know, every now and then, get overtaken with the urge to pretend to open automatic doors purely by mind control.

It's a harmless thing really. I bet everybody does it. Or at least has done it at least once. Haven't you? Come on, admit it.

It's not a sign of illness or anything. I'm perfectly sane. Really. I never take it too far.

Well, not since my attempts to control my boss's thought processes failed miserably and I didn't get the outrageously high payrise I was asking for.

Me: "Steve is an excellent worker and deserves a payrise of monumental proportions..."

My Boss: "Steve, why are you waving you hand at me and speaking in that weird voice?"

Me: "You feel the need to give me monetary remuneration for all the crap I have to deal with at work..."

My Boss: "Do you need to speak to a first aider?"

Me (sighing): "Oh never mind. Forget I said anything."

My Boss (under his breath): "Your pathetic Jedi mind tricks won't work on me, boy..."

Ho hum. Like I said. Harmless.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dumas

I’ve gone and done something stupid. Or even stoopid.

I’ve gone and lost my novel. Not the only copy I own of it thankfully – I’m so paranoid about “backing-up” I have copies littered on hard drives and servers the world over. But a copy. A full unexpurgated copy.

I had it on a memory stick. Handy things memory sticks. They allow you to transfer data all over the place willy-nilly. It meant I could foist a copy of my hard worked tome onto anybody that showed the slightest interest in reading it (I counted looks of horror as indicating an interest).

Unfortunately memory sticks are also damned handy at getting themselves lost. It was in my coat pocket one moment – not the most secure of environments, I admit – and gone the next.

It could be anywhere.

Lying on the floor at work. Lying on a pavement somewhere. Being uploaded as I type onto someone else’s computer for them to submit to a publisher as their own work.

I’ve left myself wide open to plagiarism.

I’ve now had to panic buy another memory stick and a jiffy bag to quickly send a sealed copy to myself through the post so I can postdate and prove my authorship.

Sigh.

Technology is great. It allows us to take huge shortcuts in all of our endeavours. But it also opens up shortcuts to monumental disasters as well. For God sake, don’t give me a CD containing people’s confidential medical records or you might find them left on a train somewhere.

And as for the title of this post... well, those of you who’ve seen The Shawshank Redemption will get it.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Aisles Of Wrath

Tesco.

How many great blog posts have been written about Tesco?

I’m betting not many and after this post that answer won’t have changed but I need to get this off my chest before I burst (as Christina Ricci once said to her breast reduction consultant).

Now I’ll admit that I don’t very often “reality-shop” “in-store”. After all, I prefer to spend my leisure hours doing other, more pleasurable, things... like de-clogging the toilet, giving myself a DIY root canal or burying hastily dismembered bodies beneath my patio. 9 times out of 10 though, when I do shop at Tesco I shop online. Virtually. It saves both my sanity as well as the lives of all the other shoppers.

Because whenever I do venture “in-store” (every once in a while you forget something or something drops off the virtual shopping list – I’m guessing it’s the cookies) I inevitably want to kill somebody.

Not just anybody. I’m not arbitrary about it. I don’t sing eeny-meeny-miny-mo and pick someone out at random. There will be a reason behind it.

A good, solid, cast iron reason.

Basically it’s anyone who gets in my way.

Anyone who’s too slow. Or stops dead in front of me so I have to do the hippy-hippy-shake to avoid making genital crushing contact with their bottom. Or people who hover in front of a particular food section – a food section that I need immediate access to – but don’t actually buy anything; they just stand there, hand to mouth, calculating, weighing up, umming and ahing. Like they’re about to make an amazing chess move with a tin of spam. And then they shuffle a half-step away only to snap back again like they’re on a piece of elastic the moment I reach out tentatively for the tin I want.

And sliders. Sliders get me. Teens and twenty-somethings who use the trolley like a makeshift toboggan to drag their sorry po-cracker arses around the store whilst leaving stupid looking Nike rubber marks on the polished floor. Twats.

But what annoys me most about shopping “in-store” at Tesco – and I realize this is probably just local to the Leamington Spa town centre branch – is the aisles. The aisles of Wrath. The aisles of Hatred. I don’t know why the store managers just don’t punch a few murder holes in the ceiling and have done with it.

In the olden days (i.e. when I was a kid) the aisles were made up of individual islands. Segmented with freezers and individual displays. Punctuated every 4 metres of so with crossroads which gave the shopper ample opportunity to wander off at will through the produce as if through a giant consumerist maze.

A few years ago it was obviously decided that this wasn’t good enough. That people needed to be funnelled. Controlled. Driven.

The islands disappeared. The crossroads were closed up.

Now we have the dragster strips. Long unending wind tunnels of product. Once you head down the neck of one of these aisles you have no option but to continue all the way down to the bottom. Fighting your way through the cholesterol of lost shoppers, those coming up the other way and the inevitable obstacle snarl of tangled trolleys. And you can’t turn back. You can’t turn around. Because behind you is another phalanx of weary shoppers chasing your tail, sighing as loudly as you are ‘cos they’ve just sussed out that, like you, they’re in the wrong aisle, they need to be in the next one along but now they can’t get out of this one except by following it on, on, on to its utter and completely tedious termination.

It’s like a version of hell. Hades with strip lighting and a self service counter. An extreme assault course to test your resistance to the psychological effects of attrition. To test how badly you want to get your shopping done in the face and teeth of man-made adversity.

Well, nobody wants a tin of spam that badly, Tesco. The guy who designed your floor layout needs to be shot: his gizzards removed and strung out over the frozen meat counter like little red party streamers.

Or failing that can you please just sack him?

‘Cos as your adverts so smarmily point out: every little helps.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Voice Of The People

Avatar Navi NeytiriIt's a bit late to produce a film review by now as I'm guessing all of you who are going to see Avatar have already done so. Due to circumstances Karen and I only got to see it yesterday - fashionably late, with the media not caring so much anymore and not in the much vaunted 3D.

But you know what? I do wonder if coming to the party late did us a big favour. The hype had died down. We'd read some reviews. We knew what to expect. And as for missing the 3D boat... well, who cares? I find 3D gimmickry way too distracting. Karen and I were in the mood last night just to settle back, relax and give ourselves without complication to a traditionally rendered (and CGI is becoming traditional) fantasy world for an hour or two.

And to be honest that's what we got. An uncomplicated fantasy world. Sure the effects were astounding and a real break-through (they managed to make Pete Jackson's Gollum look very ragged around the edges). And, yes, they were that old cliché: a must-see. But the story was just simple and honest. No twists. No mysteries. No surprises. And that isn't a criticism. It was just a decent story told competently. Utterly predictable. Let's just give the viewer what they want.

And we got it.

The forests are beautiful. The exotic flora and fauna rendered wonderfully. And the Navi are strangely (though, of course, deliberately) attractive. In fact Sigourney Weaver's Navi avatar was quite a fox. It's impossible not to fall in love with the entire world and tear up the arm of your cinema seat wanting them to kick every human butt off their planet and save their wonderful way of life.

This is the point of the movie of course. For all this is a fantasy it is also an allegory whose moral compass is in your face pretty much the whole time. Fine. This is fine. I agree with the message. If Avatar helps brings the point home to a few more Neanderthal petrol-heads all to the good.

But the cynic in me occasionally railed against the too simple story-telling. Nice to think us greedy humans would be so openhanded in our greed, isn't it? That we would go out and bear our teeth face-to-face so to speak; enjoin battle with some (read that as "tiny") sense of honour. Out in the open. Where every blow can be seen. Alas, history (and even the present) teaches us that us humans would be most likely to sell the natives blankets infected with cholera or accidentally poison rivers at their source and, oops, wipe out whole communities via disease and contagion... but hey we'll offer the survivors compensation to keep the moral gripes of the shareholders in check. And if all else fails, if, as in Avatar, we found our initial expeditionary force kicked off the planet with its tail between its legs (as opposed to communing with the local trees) you just know we'd go back all gung-ho to nuke the place and then rape the planet for what we wanted dressed in bio-suits.

Oh yeah. And that reminds me. "Unobtainium"? WTF? That was just lazy, Cameron. Why not call it "Perfectwomanium" or "winninglotteryticketium" and have done with it?

My other problem is that the magical forests of Pandora are just too magical. It's not enough that they could have healing properties on a biological level, no, the forest has got soul too. It's omniscient. So yeah, of course, we want it to be saved. We care about it now 'cos, to quote (or rather unquote) one of the grunts from the movie, suddenly it ain't "just trees". And this is where the allegory overplays its hand. The planet Cameron wants us to save is our own planet. And for all our trees are magical and wonderful in their own way and I have no doubt there is a cure for cancer somewhere in the rainforest... they don't speak to us or light up beneath our feet like the forests of Pandora. They're just trees. Now that is enough for me. But I suspect it is not enough for others. For others they are just trees. And while they may daydream idly about fighting to save the planet of Pandora or getting down and dirty with a giantly sensual blue alien they won't do the same for their own planet. The magic of Pandora is almost too dazzling. It makes our own world look rather drab by comparison. Too pedestrian. Not as "saveable" or "worthy of being saveable". Which is a shame and wrong.

So. Flawed. Flawed a little in the telling. But in terms of entertainment, in terms of suspending belief and creating a world that the viewer wholeheartedly wants to leap into (and wishes were real), yeah, a great great victory. I greatly enjoyed it. It was marvellous and I'd be happy to see it again. Happy to own it on DVD. Or even Blu-ray.

Glow in the dark trees and foxy half naked aliens. What more could you ask for?


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mim-Mill

Chesterton WindmillOne of the many vagaries of our car is that if it is not taken out for a drive every second day the battery will inevitably be flat by the third and the damned thing won’t start. This is fine during week days when Karen and I must journey into work but at the weekend it means we have to go out at least once or call the AA out to our doorstep on Monday.

This weekend trip is, 9 times out of 10, a purely functional journey made to keep the car happy.

But gradually it has morphed into a mini family outing that we all look forward to. We don’t go far – a round journey of no more than 10 or 12 miles that takes in some of the outlying villages that surround Leamington Spa. But it’s a great way to dust off weekend bed-heads, avoid cabin fever and remind ourselves that even in the depth of winter and the depth of a recession (I don’t care what the politicians say: my bank account says it isn’t over yet) a breathtakingly beautiful world is still out there to be explored.

Recently we have taken to driving a wide circuit around a local landmark – Chesterton Windmill. Tom had only seen a picture of a windmill in one of his kiddy books before so to see a real one was amazing. It was one of those moments that I wish I’d had the foresight to catch on film. Awe, dawning understanding, delight and excitement all moved across his face without any of that awful adult self consciousness that inhibits the best of us even when we’re ecstatically happy.

An excited cry of “Mim-mill! Mim-mill!” filled the car. It was one of those ultra cute moments that you always imagine having with your children before you actually have them.

Needless to say the name stuck.

Our weekend journeys now inevitably take us past the mim-mill and Tom has become quite adept at spotting it emerging on the horizon through the trees. I think it will now be forever known as the Mim-mill in our house. One day soon, when spring arrives and the weather turns warmer we plan to park the car nearby (battery permitting) and take Tom in for a closer look...

In that moment his joy will be my joy but the mim-mill will be his in a way that it will never be mine. I envy him that but in a good way.

Sometimes the best things in life truly are free.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love Hearts And Shotguns

A residue from St. Valentine’s Day, I have a red helium filled love heart balloon floating above the desk opposite me at work this morning. It is freaking me out. The damned thing won’t stay still. The slightest breeze or tremor communicated through the worn carpet tiles sends its swollen curves spinning and bobbing across my field of vision.

It is a heart bursting with alien life. It has been sent here to observe.

I can see the entire office behind me reflected and distorted in its metallic red surface. It’s like seeing your own reflection in a spoon. It’s taking everything in. Every movement. Every computer monitor transaction. Every illegal visit to Amazon.com during work time. There’s something malevolent about it. It is a heart that audits.

Every time I look up it is turning slowly to face me. I’m sure it is going to pull a gun on me when I least expect it. Fire off a couple of rounds. Go for my heart. Or worse. Play with me. Ask me how many shots I think it has fired. Am I feeling lucky? Well? Am I?

Sometimes it disappears. Drops literally below my radar. And then up it bobs again. Looking like the Imperial Spy Droid from The Empire Strikes Back. Only red and shiny. Freshly dipped in Bothan blood. I need Han Solo to take it out. To hit it harder than he thought.

The ruddy thing is out to get me. Persistent. Indefatigable. It won’t take no for an answer.

But it’s not going to get me.

It can’t.

You see, I am just so not in love with my job...


Friday, February 12, 2010

iClaudius

Suzi Perry, gadget handler extraordinaireWith the advent of the iPhone, the iPod and the iPad I’m feeling the need to cash in on this bandwagon of “convenience technology” by throwing my own hat into the ring. I’d like to run a few ideas (or should that be: iDeas) by you just in case there are some enlightened iNventors or honest admin assistants at the Patents Office out there who’d be willing to take a gamble and make us both some money.

My first concept that is up for grabs is the iPub. Yes, the mobile pub in your pocket. Enhancing hologramatic technology you can have a virtual 3D pub in your pocket for the fraction of the price of a pint at Spearmint Rhino. Just toggle between Irish / East End / Corrie / Wine Bar / Polari for the ambience of your choice and let the flock wallpaper and the smell of urine and sawdust pixelate into HD being before your very eyes. With programmable jukebox music, Easter egg lock-in option and “Easy Lay” expansion software you need never have to suffer a miserable night in on your own again. Comes with a choice of 3 barmaid personalities: Keeley Hawes, Meryl Streep and Beryl Reid and warm beer (depending on how cool you keep your trouser pockets).

Concept no.2 is the iPrayer for those who want to bring their worship into the 21st Century. This little device comes complete with the religious icon (ha ha) of your choice and seamlessly integrates with all modern social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, MySpace – and allows you to share your devotions and votive offerings with the world wide web. Why get on your knees and bang your head against a pew when you can email God or send him a Tweet or two? There is an optional Confessional mode for those of you with Catholic leanings – though be careful to run this in silent mode. For those of you with Old Testament sympathies the device also doubles as a sizeable and weighty stone that can be used to punish adulterers and those who have given their seed unto Molech. Device is waterproof up to 10 metres and comes with an easy-kleen screen.

Concept no. 3 is the iPimp and yes I am scraping the barrel here. Choose from over 50 accents to give your iPimp the national flavour of your choice – Eastern Bloc, South American, Cockney, to name but a few – and indulge yourself electronically in the seedy world of human trafficking. An advanced touch screen menu system will allow you to choose between violence or drug addiction as the method of controlling the merchandise or simply purchase an optional software upgrade that will give your iPimp a Huggy Bear “skin” and render all your transactions somehow fun and jocular and Carry On-esque without a word ever having to be said to the wise, know worrimean? The iPimp comes supplied with a his ‘n’ hers virtual reality enhancing body suit with over a million electronically fired neurone amplifiers to make your experience as real as possible. We recommend that customers buy the iPimp in conjunction with the iPrayer in order to make the most of the inevitable post-transaction feelings of guilt, remorse and self disgust and the need to absolve oneself of an emotional and moral stain.

Concept no. 4 is the iPrick. This tiny, tiny device... yeah, yeah, I think this joke has just about run its course now. If anyone from The Gadget Show is watching I’m available most evenings for interviews but please make sure it’s Suzi Perry and not Jason Bradbury. Ta.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Parting Shot

Frankie Boyle customer service...With frightening regularity I fantasize about tearing verbal strips off the many moany customers who visit my place of work. You know the types I mean: the complainers, the ne’er-do-wells, the jobsworths, the oiks, the various foulmouthed ruffians who pollute all societies with their continued existence.

Most of the time – in fact all of the time – I stick to company policy. I remain polite. I remain non-aggressive. I try to appease. I apologize where necessary. For the ruffians I am sometimes moved to call the police but that is (a) another story and (b) just self preservation.

But for the rest, particularly when they have been rude and unnecessarily superior, I have often wished in retrospect that I had been a little less mollifying. A little less obsequious. Yes, it has kept me in my job but it has darkened my soul somewhat and certainly damaged my self-esteem.

It would be nice not to give a damn one day and really lay into someone, give them the kind of tongue lashing that would turn Frankie Boyle’s hair white.

Yeah, well if you don’t like the state of the toilets why don’t you drag your sorry arse out to the local park and wipe your backside on a thorn bush you pisspoor excuse for a human being...!

Don’t talk to me like that you stuck up harridan, why don’t you take your stupid blue rinse out to the nearest soup kitchen and go and boil your head?

Marvellous.

Some days even a simple eff off would do.

My problem is I’d never have the balls to do it. I’d worry too much about getting into trouble or losing my job. The only time it would be possible would be during that glorious period of employment when, for whatever reason, you have handed in your notice and are working out your last week before moving onto pastures new. I mean what could they do? Sack you? Ha ha! I piss on your corporate sacking procedures!

And then it struck me. I did have the opportunity to do that once. Years ago.

The first job I ever had was as a telephone operator at British Telecom. What an utterly soul destroying job that was. I used to get sympathy from world weary vampires. A couple of months before I left I watched enviously as a colleague of mine worked out his notice. On his last day he went out at lunchtime and got blindingly drunk. When he came back for his last ever afternoon shift the air was peppered with four letter words and expletive combinations that would have made Frankie Boyle’s hair fall out. Callers were cut off, told to eff off and do things with their orifices that those orifices were never meant to do. The superiors could only look on white faced and let him go home early.

Absolutely ruddy fantastic I thought. I shall have some of that when my time comes.

But did I?

Did I hell.

No, on my last shift I remained as polite and professional as ever. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not even a “go boil your head” passed my lips.

What an idiot!

*Sigh*

Looking back on it I blame my extreme youth, nervousness, fear of authority and general callowness. All qualities that I have gradually shed over the intervening years. Now I think my tongue would dissolve in the acid I could muster.

No job is for life these days, they say, so sooner or later I’ve got another last day coming to me. When that day comes stay out of Leamington, my friends, stay out of Leamington...


Monday, February 08, 2010

It’s A Dirty War

Is street litter alive, do you think? Does it possess some kind of sub-intelligence that allows it to migrate minutely across pavements and up kerbstones according to the rules of some kind of inscrutable herd instinct?

I ask this because my front garden seems to attract litter like Heather Mills attracts woodworm (but repels Beatles – ha ha). Every day a new piece of detritus appears from out of the ether – like it’s apported there from another dimension. Sweet wrappers, crisp packets (usually full of rain water) and the ubiquitous and therefore unconditionally hateful McDonald’s milkshake carton.

I can only surmise that the architecture of my street creates some weird kind of wind vortex that sucks and swirls all the litter from the immediate vicinity into a little freight train of trash that inevitably finds its way to my front door step.

It sounds too unfeasible to be true, doesn’t it? But the alternative would be to suggest that passersby are deliberately hoofing the packaging from their consumables over my hedge and onto my front lawn on a regular basis.

Now I’m not so paranoid as to suggest a deliberate campaign of dirty warfare here but the fact we’re on the route home from the local pub probably has a bearing on what is occurring and, yes, I know worse things happen at sea and all that...

...but it annoys the living bejasus out of me. Mostly because the local authority has, in its infinite wisdom, installed litter bins every 50 yards along most of Leamington’s streets. No matter where you are in Leamington Spa you are never too far away from a litter bin. They punctuate every pavement of my home town like a 3D form of Sanskrit.

And yet the streets are still awash with crap, cast-offs and the crud of various social effluvia.

The most recent offense that has really got my goat was finding one of those horrid orange polystyrene food cartoons wedged into my hedge like the poor thing was an aga. The hedge is quite dense. It takes some doing to wedge anything into it, I can tell you. In fact we occasionally find birds spitted on the ends of twigs like ready-made kebabs. To shove a polystyrene container in there, elbow-deep, took a good deal of deliberate effort. Surely it would have been far easier to walk another 10 yards or so and find the ever open-mouth of a friendly litter bin? Why dump your guff on someone else’s parade?

Clearly there are too many people around who just do not care enough about their environment and that makes me quite depressed. Why is it that we humans constantly deface the world around us with such belligerent nonchalance? Have we really progressed no further than dogs and cats who mark out their territory with the waste of their own bodies? Here, see that chip wrapper over there? Well, that’s mine that is and so’s the street that goes along with it...!

Harrumph.

Well, see that machine gun turret behind that hedge over there? That’s mine, that is, and so is everything that falls in range of the bullets. So find an effing bin next time!


Friday, February 05, 2010

Carry On Cadbury’s

Cadbury's chocolateI’m probably jumping onto the bandwagon a bit late here but Kraft + Cadbury’s = bad news.

I’m not talking about the risk to investor’s money.

I’m not talking about the probable future closure of factories (given Kraft’s past track record).

I’m not even talking about the inevitable jobs losses despite Kraft’s “you’re all safe, you are, honest” protestations.

No. I’m talking about the important thing. The chocolate. ‘Cos for all Kraft merely want to grab Cadbury’s bubble gum marketing network they will inevitably mess with the chocolate recipe. They’ll cut corners. Go for cheaper nastier ingredients. Like greedy street corner pushers they’ll start cutting it with baking powder and sawdust and horse tranquilizers. They’ll bring out an American version that’ll taste slick and plasticky like a Hershey’s bar. They will eventually commit the ultimate sin and call it candy.

Can you imagine that?

Cadbury’s Candy?

I’m dry heaving even as I type.

To mess with our chocolate would be sacrilege of the highest (lowest?) order. But the desecration is inevitable. Like Vikings raiding a Saxon village Kraft will tear down our temples, smear faeces on our altar cloths and make us worship the goat headed god of candy pseudo-chocolate.

I’m stockpiling now. Dairy Milk, Caramel, Fruit & Nut, Wispa, Boost. My loft is becoming a chocolate warehouse. Bursting at the seams with all that is good and wholesome about Cadbury’s before it’s too late. Before (to paraphrase Merry from Lord Of The Rings) all that is good and brown about our chocolate is gone from the world. And then there won’t be a Shire, Pippin.

And there won’t be no Curly-wurly neither.

You see, my biggest fear is that my personal chocolate stash will become a shrine. A DNA database for chocolate to remind us of what good chocolate once tasted like. A few dusty bars held in suspended animation that nobody dare consume or brought out of cryogenic storage solely to be minutely sampled by rogue scientists to try and rediscover and replicate the old magical recipe.

And then we’ll be into the realm of genetically modified chocolate. A world where interplanetary companies like the Tyrell Corporation control and tailor our chocolate eating experience in line with intergalactic legislation. I tell you now the motto “more chocolate than chocolate” will be our undoing!

Oh good people of earth clasp your Fruit & Nut to your bosoms! Defend your Cream Eggs to your last breath! The heathens are even now on our doorstep and pissing into our hot chocolate!

Or am I just over-reacting?


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Blog Off

+++WARNING+++TETCHY TECHIE POST+++

I had an email from Blogger last night. Ooh, I thought. They’re hand selecting me for a blogging award.

Yeah right.

It was to inform me that Blogger would no longer be supporting FTP publishing from the end of March 2010.

Hello? Are you still there? Basically this means that people like me who publish their blog to their own bought and paid for domain name would no longer be able to do so. We must switch to Blogger’s own domain name – blogspot.com – or, I surmised (though it wasn’t stated) go elsewhere for our blogging needs.

I was not amused.

Apparently only 5% of Blogger users publish via FTP and yet it is a huge draw on Blogger’s resources to continue to support it. Myself, I can’t quite accept the logic of that. All my pages, all the images are held on web space that I own. They are not using up web space on Blogger’s own servers which must surely be chock-a-block with the material supplied by the other 95% of Blogger users.

What resources am I hogging exactly?

Anyway, I kind of got the impression that resistance and complaint was futile. I’m in the minority here after all. The blogging world will hardly down tools in protest if I disappear from the electronic ether. My choice is simple – either switch to blogspot.com or go elsewhere. I’ve tried other Blog suppliers and I don’t really like ‘em so I guess I have little choice but to cooperate with the new Blogger dictat.

I’m going to jump before I’m pushed and I am therefore requesting that all you good people who visit and read my blog – maybe even Follow it in the Blogger sense – will be good enough to update all your links and swap to my new blog address which is as follows: http://bloggertropolis.blogspot.com

I shall set up an auto redirect myself for stragglers but as from today the old address is essentially defunct. There is a new blogging world order.

Apparently there are pros to this move. I will be able to utilize some of the new Blogger templates that us awkward FTP users have been technologically denied access to – so maybe there will be a change of décor as well. Ooh! I bet you can hardly wait.

Ahem.

I hope to see you all on the other side...

(Please leave any comments on the new blog.)


Monday, February 01, 2010

Mountaineering

It's one of those moments that drains the blood out of the faces of most parents. The moment when the full realization of what could have happened hits you full in the face like a right hook from David Haye.

The rule of the stairgate is golden in our house. It is always used, it is always kept locked.

Tom at 2 years & 3 months is capable of navigating the stairs but only with assistance. This assistance being Karen or I (or sometimes both) sweeping up behind him like vast safety nets ready to catch him should he ever stumble on his climb upwards. Only rarely has he shown any inclination to climb down on his own much preferring the ease and comfort of being carried. Well, who wouldn't?

Yesterday, during the delivery of our weekly shopping the stairgate was accidently left open...

Tom loves to help us put the shopping away. This eagerness to help sometimes results in teeth marks in the butter and fruit being thrown around the kitchen like footballs. But we can live with it. Frequently Tom amazes us with his understanding and knowledge. Yesterday he came across a tube of toothpaste. Instantly he knew this was not a kitchen item but an upstairs item. Thinking the stairgate nicely secured we told him to put in "on the stairs" - something he can do quite easily by reaching through the bars of the gate.

He disappeared. We thought nothing of it. Not until Karen took some other upstairs items to the stairs herself and found Tom halfway down / halfway up them. He was fine. He was chattering to himself in the quiet way kids do when they're concentrating and urging themselves on to complete a sterling endeavour. Karen and I had a mini freak-out and made sure he reached the bottom safely.

We didn't have to tell each other what a close call that was. I myself fractured my leg at Tom's age by falling down two stairs and had 6 weeks in hospital as a consequence.

The toothpaste was nowhere to be found however.

We searched the hall and the shoe-rack. There was no sign. Surely he hadn't made it all the way upstairs?

I ventured up. There in our bedroom, on the bedside table was the tube of toothpaste. He'd got all the way up to the top and half way down again under his own steam.

I feel both amazed, proud and damned relieved. And have ordered him some crampons for his next birthday - it looks like a hillwalking holiday in Wales might be on for this year.

That is, if my nerves can last that long.